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Ballack in dark over Chelsea axing

Chelsea boss Avram Grant chose not to explain to midfielder Michael Ballack why he was dropping the German ahead of yesterday's Carling Cup final against Tottenham.

The midfielder was left on the bench and only brought on in the 88th minute as his side were beaten 2-1 by in extra-time.

Germany captain Ballack has been one of Chelsea's star performers in recent weeks and played an important part in getting the team to the final.

But he is not convinced Grant's new rotation policy is more effective than keeping a settled side.

Ballack said: "I am not happy that I did not play but I have to accept it like everybody else who did not start. It was not explained, it was on the team-sheet shortly before the game and that was it."

Didier Drogba made a big fuss of celebrating with Ballack after opening the scoring in the first half, indicating that he thought Grant was wrong to leave out the midfielder, says the Daily Mail.

But Dimitar Berbatov and then Jonathan Woodgate made the striker's free-kick no more than a footnote in the history books.

Ballack said: "We have to keep going in the other competitions. We still have a strong team and good chances to win the Champions League. Okay, in the Premier League we are nine points behind Arsenal, but we still have hope and we have to remember that and concentrate. We have to start again.

"We didn't start very well yesterday and couldn't control the game. Tottenham looked sharper. We did too little to win a final. Now we have to think about why we didn't win and do better in the future."

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Tribal Football Staff

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